Accepted Paper:

Slow travelling with Tibetan refugees  


Thomas Kauffmann (NGO - Independent Scholar)

Paper short abstract:

In Dharamsala, where the Dalai Lama settled with other Tibetan refugees, tourism is not common and involves several population and a long term aspect. My contribution will describe the nature, impact and consequences of this slow travelling as well as the induced interactions and transformations.

Paper long abstract:

In 1960, the Dalai Lama, followed by thousands of Tibetan refugees, settle in exile in Dharamsala, India. This transformed this small mountain village into a tourist hub, popularly known nowadays as "little Lhasa", in reference to the capital of Tibet.

But the place is not for common tourism: first, it is remote and hard to reach, and second the nature of its inhabitants makes it special. As a result, several population of travellers can be found there: backpackers from all over the world, making a pause in their initiation travel; "voluntourists" and donors coming to help the Tibetan community; religious tourists and pilgrims following or interested in Buddhism; and scholars, researching every aspects of this place and its people.

All these population are seeking and forming another type of travel, a slow one, where time is taken to discover what they are looking for. My contribution will describe a double movement around slow travelling. On one hand it will show how several forms of slow traveling can be initiated and fuelled by specific conditions (here the discourses and self-representations of the Tibetan refugees towards long time stays but also on traditions, spirituality and "authenticity"). And, on the other hand, how the hosts' community is shaped and transformed through these forms of slow travelling.

Thus, the contribution will be on the identification and somehow hybridisation of the different communities of host and travellers, due to slow travelling. It would be located in this specific microcosm of Dharamsala where slow travelling prevails and shadowed totally other forms of tourism.

Panel P069
Slow travelling: a precious heritage or a sustainable strategy for future mobilities? [ANTHROMOB & IUAES-Tourism]